What a real friend would do.

First and foremost the first weekend of our show was pretty epic! The air in the theatre was struck by lightening weeks ago and still has not been fixed.  So, as you can imagine there was a ton of sweating done by all.  The show itself is tighter than it ever has been.  WE are all making great discoveries every day and still digging deep in to our characters.  There is always something new to be found and WE ARE GOING TO FIND IT.  

 

Tonight at dinner it was mentioned in some fashion that the cast and the group of people that are closely associated with us have no qualms about talking about a person (in a joking manner) to each other’s faces.  OR when we are talking about it away from them, we catalog this info and share it with them when we see them next…which will probably be in five minutes anyway.  I have friendships that resemble this with some of my Montevallo friends too.  These types of friendships just make my heart smile.  When it’s just you and them you can say whatever you want, be ethically questionable and just have a kick-ass time.  We aren’t afraid to call each other out on BS, and, personally I would want someone to call me out if I was out of line.

 

These friends are willing to back you up no matter what, fight for you outside your little community and laugh at you when you fall on your face in a crowded bar with too many lesbians in it.  These friendships, these little rays of sunshine in my life are the ones that I want to never let go of.  The mutual respect is unbreakable and the love is never waning. 

 

I’ve come to realize however that the friendships that are bad for me plague everything.  They crawl in to my brain and pick away at my emotions and eat away at my happiness.  I’ll call these the “just for looks” friends.  These are the friends who are nice to you when they see you and then tear you apart with their other friends behind your back…and DON’T tell you about it.  These are the people that you may have wronged yourself, but you don’t really know how to fix it.  These are the friends that hold grudges against you for reasons that you had no control over. These are the friends that it is just easier to get along with than end the friendship and cause WWIII. But, these are the friends that I shouldn’t have.  

Al these things are avoidable with real, true friends.  I can talk through any problem with “Sister Mary-Sue” (name changed to respect identity) and we have had our fair share of issues, but we’ve gotten through them with maturity and love.  And Sister Mary-Sue knows I’ll still drag her drunk ass in to the house even after she slaps me across the face and tells me to leave her by the comfy tree.  

This year I am not holding my self hostage any longer.  I am going to drop the friendships that are harmful to my happiness.  I’m going to make the rest of my college career and life beyond about doing what is right for me.  I can no longer stand idly by while my “friends” treat me like a child and talk behind my back.  I can longer stand for the bitchiness veiled as sarcasm and will no longer tolerate immaturity.  It is time to grow up people and face the real world.  Not everyone will be naiive enough to call you friends first.

Preview of LIFE!

So tonight was our first, and only, preview before we open tomorrow!  It felt so great to have an audience at last experience the same things we have this past month in rehearsals.  Everyone in this show is so connected to what they do!  It is amazing just to sit back and watch my fellow actors work their magic! Trust me, it is magic.  After the run tonight there was an audience member moved to tears.  With a show like this and its emotional content tears aren’t surprising.  But, these tears didn’t stop.  She kept crying.  The whole time I just wanted to give her a hug and tell her it was okay.  I didn’t know her story but I can only imagine the ways she connected with the story.  My heart was breaking.  Theatre, as an art form, can quite literally be therapy.  If an audience member or actor feels something so strongly and it is very hard to put in to words how they feel, going to the theater can be a great way to work through these emotions. Even though it is fiction and all make believe there is a certain element of understanding and realness that happens.  Watching events unfold and seeing how someone, even a fictional someone, deals with them can be very enlightening and helpful to a person struggling to put words to their thoughts.

I am so ready for the real adventure to start.  To officially open this show and just put it out there for our community to see!  I hope everyone takes something valuable away from this very captivating piece of literature and music.  Break-A-Leg to the cast, crew and band! you are all fan-freaking-tastic! AND I can’t wait for more Drop Dead Gorgeous quotes tomorrow!  ” I chose Mount Rushmore. ‘Cause to live in a country where you can take an ugly old mountain and put faces on it, faces of great Americans who did so much to make our country super great. Well, that makes me Rebecca Leeman, proud to be an American. ”

I leave for Russia in 3 weeks and 2 days! 23 DAYS! I am so excited!  I’ve already started packing and sorting and unpacking and repacking!  It is tough to decide what is important enough to take and keep it all in the weight requirement! How many different outfits do I pack? do I take 9 pairs of shoes..or should I leave room for other stuff??  I decided..with the help of my packing guru “THE INTERNET” I would pack all undershirts, underwear and socks knowing full well that I am going to throw most of them away for the return journey-just in case I bring souvenirs home..PS I’m gonna bring souvenirs home.

I’m finishing up my reading, trying to buy all the dance wear and school supplies that I’ll need!  We’ve also been informed to learn the Cyrillic Alphabet by the time we arrive… Well, guess what!? The Cyrillic Alphabet is HARD! whoever tells you otherwise is a liar! they are lying to you!  I’ve been trying to teach myself all summer the names and sounds of the symbols and it is just not going my way. Curse you St. Cyril for spreading Christianity to the Slovak nations and making it a point to create a new form of communication! CURSE YOU!

Things are coming together

Lately, at rehearsal, I’ve been a bit stuck. I wasn’t really sure how to move Henry forward through the plot without risking intent and vocal quality. Singing to music, and rhythms, and keeping everything in check while conveying a character on stage is tough work. It is hard to get out of my own head and stop over think everything and just let the text take over. I’ve been trying my “speaking the lyrics” exercises and they are helping immensely.

I am not a person who lets emotion fly very easily. While I admit I appear to be a crazy loon have the time, I am surprisingly in control of what I’m feeling and what I’m doing. Or, at least I feel like I am. So, I naturally suppress the impulse to let go. But with acting and especially this show it is really imperative that I do that. Henry is a surprising person to find in this bunch of people. He is oddly upbeat, and full of jokes and wit. But, above all else Henry loves to love. He loves and cares for Natalie it really hurts him when she tries to pull away and be alone. It hurts him to think what life would be like if in this world of muck and decay he didn’t have someone to share the happy moments with.

At first I thought he was a little whiny and I did resent him for it. Like an actor plying a character who he hates it showed in rehearsal. I had to find a way to let go of those first impressions, which Stanislavsky tells us are so hard to rid ourselves of (see, I have been doing my reading for Russia). The incubation period is crucial with this role and this show. We had a recent rehearsal where not much work was getting accomplished, and it was because of all the emotion that was coursing through the subtext of this show. We really just needed to,step back and assess what the heck just happened to us and figure out a way to move forward. I’m choosing to read the script everyday. I’m hoping to find something new every time I read it. This is helping in the discovery that Henry is not as dumb and “potheadish” as at first I believed him to be. *most important discovery of the day* not all marijuana smokers are “potheads”

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The random paragraphs…

I am missing the back to school rush. I can’t tell you how much I am going to miss my friends and professors at school. You all mean the world tome. I hope you are all fabulous. RENT and THE HEIDI CHRONICLES are going to be amazing productions!

This may sound really odd but, RuPaul is an amazing person. He is so classy, funny, smart and caring. His insight into the human mind and how we should respond to those who belittle us is inspiring. To quote him ” if you can’t love yourself how in the hell are you going to love somebody else; can I get an amen?”

I was awoken yesterday by the mail man banging on the front door. I rushed to the door, with my pants on backwards, no shirt, hair everywhere and Alaska our friendly German Shepard terrified. After a moment of bewilderment and a possible laugh suppression. The mailman told me that we had a package at the post office that was leaking a substance. “a fine, gray dusty substance that looked like gunpowder” in my state I had no idea how to respond but I managed an ” ok….” he told me to call a number on the slip and sort it out. So. I got a drink, picked up phone, dialed and proceeded to be yelled at by the postmaster. “what is this substance leaking from your package?!?!” btw, at this point I believed the package was being sent to me… So I said, ” ma’am I have no idea, I don’t even know who sent the package to me” she said “the return address and receiving address are the same, you sent it to yourself.”. I went on to tell that I had not sent anything anywhere and certainly not to myself. And them we talked about my possible enemies and anyone who wanted to kill me… After a depressing few minutes I realized my mom was out of town and might’ve sent something home from Seattle. And then, as sudden realization was keeping over me I asked the lady what the substance was again. She said “a fine gray powder like dust or gunpowder. (sidebar) my aunt, uncle and mother traveled earlier in the week to Seattle to have a mini memorial for my grandmother who died last year and my grandfather who past away in 1978. The trip was full of the strollings down memory lane, visits to the beach and a ship ride out on Puget Sound where they would spread the ashes of my grandparents. Up until the moment I was on the phone with the lady from the postoffice I thought the spreading of the ashes memorial was successful. But then I wondered if those were the ashes of my grandmother… And I had told the story to the lady and she wondered the same thing…. And then I was horrified.. And apparently it’s a crime to send ashes in the mail so she was getting angry..very angry… And I was just getting more horrified. And then, I needed to call my mom. I thought she was at work..I was wrong. She was in her room. After a very frantic description of what happened with the mail man and the postmaster I almost tearfully asked if she sent grandma home in a box…she laughed. I was horrified even more…in the end the dusty powder were not the ashes of my deceased grandmother but the sand from a beach at the bottom of a cliff near the sound that my mom just had to get home to put in her hermit crab “crabitat.” then she got yelled at by the postmaster and all was right in the world.

^ i know that paragraph was crazy… But I didn’t want to change paragraphs and make you think I changed to another random topic

Russia is 33 days away!

Happy Birthday Marietta, one of my best friends and a wonderful woman! I hope our day is wonderful. Your semester is grand. And your BFA project is fabulous!

A little Insomnia never hurt anyone

Next to Normal rehearsal has been really tough for me lately. I find myself wanting to explore various avenues of discovery but never knowing how to take the first step. Today, though, our wonderful director had us speak the lyrics of an act 2 song. With a few hiccoughs, and a slight sense of trepidation I gave myself over to the words and really heard what I was saying. And then we sang it. While, still, not being perfect or polished there was real feeling and real emotions happening. On the way home and for 20 minutes just in my driveway I kept speaking and singing the words of that song and now I just can’t wait to sing it more and perform the rest of this crazy show with this crazy cast. UGH, what an experience.

On the Russian front. I am trying to make my way through this reading list. I’m finishing THE INSPECTOR GENERAL. And moving on to Chekhov. Every time I think about being in Moscow, studying theatre I think, nahhhh…that’s not me. But it is. And it’s crazy. I know this experience is going to change me..hopefully for the better and I cannot wait.

Ps, I now have a hermit crab named Trudy..she’s feisty. And I think my cat can teleport. I swear I saw him in the front yard and then turned around and saw him on the couch in the living room. Also, who knew Reubens tasted good on raisin bread??? The Belgians…that’s who. Also again, I’ve had two whole days without Olympics coverage and I’m more than a little depressed. I NEED TO SEE BOB COSTAS MAKE STUPID COMMENTS! AND CRAZY PARENTS IN THE STANDS. How am I supposed to survive without them. Last also, THE IRON LADY was just a mess…

Please be kind. Rewind.

Ramblings on a Evening

Before I get sidetracked, I want to inform everyone that I ate sweet corn ice cream today. If you haven’t heard, I am from Iowa. And being from Iowa I had to try it, because what is Iowa known for if not for the corn. Or hogs, Cloris Leachman, Ashton Kutcher, the electronic digital computer, field of dreams, the bridges of Madison County, Glenn Miller, or civil rights activism. I could go on, but most of the time it is only me interested in these facts about Iowa.

I had dinner today with a man whose hard work and charitable foundation have helped support me through college and life in general. Whenever I’m with him I feel challenged to be my very best. Not in a holy crap I’m totally screwed kind of way but in a this man cares and wants me to try my hardest and be the best at whatever I do kind of way. During the conversation about career and life (and on the drive home) I found myself wondering how I’m going to achieve everything we talked about. I have no aspirations to be the wealthiest actor or the most famous. I don’t want a tabloid presence wherever I go capturing every mistake I make and printing it in their headlines. What I do want is to live a life worth living. One full of great friends. A wonderful family and crazy, amazing, spectacular creation. I have been really interested in found space theatre production for a while now and would love to make a career out of creating wonderful theatre from nothing, anywhere, anytime. I don’t know how that’s going to happen yet or how I could possibly make money doing that but, my foray into found space theatre last year with Madness of Lady Bright by Lanford Wilson has sparked this wild desire in me to just go for it and create.

The beauty of this kind of creation process is that even the happy accidents or mistakes can turn into memorable moments of theatre. In a traditional theatre setting there is a relative amount of comfort in knowing how any given performance (after opening night) is going to turn out. Sure there maybe any number of instances where a performance might derail but for the most part it is the way it is. In found space it’s always different. There are so many possibilities with one script that every night of performance might be totally different and unique. So different that they probably won’t ever be repeated. Found Space Theatre is truly a once in a life time experience.

Thanks for reading

I am breaking away from my Moscow Art Theatre School reading list this week and just focussing on my Next to Normal lines. Wish me luck…

PS the sweet corn ice cream was not a win.